Saturday - 71st Z6s Daagse Vlaanderen Ghent
by Steve Penny
71st Six-Days of Ghent
The crowds were back in good numbers hoping to see entertaining racing as well as get a winter look at Belgian road star Philippe Gilbert (see below). After a sluggish first three days things picked up a little last night as home favourite Kenny De Ketele and Robert Bartko turned the screw in the chases and took control of this Six Day race.
Klassement Sprint (point's race): - After a torrid first four days the Czech rider Hacecky finally had something to celebrate winning the warm up points race. His partner Martin Blaha is still neutralised.
Team Elimination Race: - Franco Marvulli continued his up and down week with an up, beating the much improved Marc Hester to the line. The Swiss and his partner Christian Grasmann are closing in on 300 points and another bonus lap. They have the highest points total in the race, but haven't yet shown they'd be strong enough in the chases to go for the overall win.
Flying Lap Time Trial (TT): - Despite having a cold, Wim Stroetinga kept his 100% record against the clock putting in a time of 8.760 seconds (68.490 kmph). Not quite hitting the heights of last night but for a man with a cold he still put in a shift. Second again, but well worth a mention, where De Ketele – Bartko who clocked another time under 9 seconds, 8.810 (68.102 kmph). This is the first year De Ketele has posted such fast times, not sure if it is his improved speed or the imposing size and strength of Robert Bartko building up the speed for him that has made the difference.
1st Madison (45 minutes): - Tonight's first chase contributed to a change in the classification as Lampater – Van Der Sande gained a lap, with Dillier – Imhof going into the late stages. Despite an attack from the Swiss, Van Der Sande was able to come past in the last few metres to grab the victory. The German / Belgian combination moved up the standings to sit alone in second place, a lap clear of 3 other teams.
Derny Races (1 & 2): - The first Derny race went to Steven De Neef in this his farewell Six Day. The second one was a real crowd pleasing winning performance from Kenny De Ketele.
Individual Elimination Race (1): - Once again Marcel Barth won the first individual elimination race. His victim tonight was the Aussie, Glenn O'Shea. Despite having lost 14 laps overall, Barth is at least earning his money with wins elsewhere on the programme.
500 Metre TT: - The Dutchmen, Stroetinga – Schep, kept their unbeaten streak against the clock intact coming around in a blistering 27.660 (65.076 kmph). In second place again over 500 metres were Imhof – Dillier in 28.030 (64.217 kmph) from Bartko - De Ketele, 28.080 (64.103 kmph).
2nd Madison (30 minutes): - The second chase again saw all the now tired teams remain within a lap and it was again unfortunately another low key affair. Near the end of the race there were spirited attempts by Franco Marvulli and Tosh Van Der Sande, respectively, to get away close to the end. Neither succeeded, setting up a sprint that Stroetinga, the undoubted fast man of this race, took from De Ketele and Marvulli.
Derny Races (3 & 4): - With the track centre crowd noticeably thinner, and those still in attendance wilting under the effects of the local brew, the Derny bikes revved up once again. This time they towed Robert Bartko and Andreas Muller, respectively, to the line first for a German double.
Individual Elimination Race (2): - Following on from his team mate Barth, who won the earlier elimination, it was the turn of Robert Bengsch to put the hard week behind him and smile for the camera and take the prize.
Supersprint: - Closing out proceedings was the 'supersprint', and winning this one with a super sprint to finish the night at 01:30a.m., was Franco Marvulli.
Wim Stroetinga (in 2nd place with Peter Schep) has had a good Six and has shown to be stronger than in previous years. I asked him how he is feeling and about his improved strength and his plans for the rest of the winter:
“I'm coming down with a bit of a cold... it's this building I'm sure!!! In places it is really hot, then in other parts, like the cabins, we are getting a draft and that isn't helping. I'm hoping I can get through Sunday ok, but I know I'm going to be ill from Monday onwards.
I had 2 years on the road with Milram (2009 & 2010) and that really helped with my endurance, so you can see that is now better. I'm having trouble in the elimination races, they just are not my thing. That is a problem though, as I'm supposed to be riding the World Cup omniums early next year after the Rotterdam Six. I had hoped to ride in Bremen but didn't get the call!!!”
Despite the cold he stayed in contention, although losing a lap in the first chase possibly signalled the end of their chances to win overall tomorrow.
Standings after 5 Nights:
1. Bartko - De Ketele 292 points 2. Lampater - Van Der Sande 241 @ 1 Lap: 3. Grasmann – Marvulli 330 4. Stroetinga - Schep 297 5. Kneisky - Hester 278 6. Mertens - Stam 192 @ 4 Laps: 7. Dillier – Imhof 252 @ 6 Laps: 8. O'Shea - Roberts 166 9. Muller - De Neef 102 @ 8 Laps: 10. Van Bon - Aeschbach 128 @ 14 Laps: 11. Barth - Bengsch 121 @ 15 Laps: 12. Edmuller - Morkov 85 @ 22 Laps: 13. Hacecky - Blaha 67
Philippe Gilbert in the House
Despite Mark Cavendish winning the World Road Race and Cadel Evans taking the Tour de France the undoubted 'Man of the Year' on the road was Philippe Gilbert. The 29 year old from the French speaking Ardennes region of Belgium took a unique treble in his native region of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Fleche Wallonne and the Amstel Gold Race. He held his spring form into the Tour and took a stage and the yellow jersey for a day. On top of that he was national road and time trial champion and won around 18 races in 8 different countries including Quebec, Canada.
Despite this being Flanders, he is popular across Belgium, as his easy going personality has won him friends and fans, at home and abroad. So tonight he was the star attraction at Het Kuipke, being presented to the crowd, signing copies of his book and taking the plunge by riding a 'friendly' pursuit on the track with fellow road pro Jurgen Roelandts. The winner of the pursuit was of course Gilbert, but it was all about the appearance rather than the performance and within minutes he was whisked away from the crowd by two minders.
'Memorial Noel Fore' – UIV-Under 23 Race:
Tonight the under-23 race saw the young Brits Doull and Yates hold onto the overall lead. It was not an easy ride though as a couple more teams came back to within one lap of them going into Sundays 45 minute 'finale'. They'll need to stay calm and attentive in what will no doubt be a dangerous last race.